Why is Rizal still an authentic hero today?

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez - The Freeman

Today, when our country is in dire search of true and authentic heroes, we remember Dr. Jose Rizal with fondness and some tinge of pain and longing. In times when we are about to enter the ASEAN Integration, we need the global perspectives of the Great Malayan Hero and  Filipino Illustrado, who travelled the world extensively and understood the nuances of international affairs and foreign diplomacy. His knowledge of political ideologies and international politics would have been very useful today, in shaping our foreign relations policies and deciding our many diplomatic challenges, like our conflicts with China and other claimants of Spratlys, the Kalayaan Islands and Scarborough Shoal.

Whilst I admit that there were many times when I really thought that Bonifacio was a greater and more genuine national hero, (I saw the movie "Bonifacio: Ang Unang Pangulo"), today, I am all the more convinced that Rizal is the truly the ''el primus inter pares'', the first among equals, if ever the Great Plebian can come anywhere near Rizal in stature and caliber. Rizal could have inspired our youth today, as this generation seems to be without a genuine behavior model nowadays. They need an icon who would provide the Generation Y and the millennials a living example on how to live as young Filipinos in these troubled times. Rizal could have served as a shining example on  how a son should love and honor his mother and respect his father and accord due care for  and affection to his brother and  sisters.

In today's difficult times, when we have no less than twelve million OFWs in about 200 countries all over the world, Rizal could have taught our migrant workers how Filipinos abroad should behave in foreign lands and bring honor to the Philippines, by their hard work, creativity and unique character and culture. As a long resident in Europe, Rizal gave an example on how Filipinos should acquire more knowledge in other countries and come home bringing new perspectives, new technology, new social and cultural insights and orientations. He could have taught our young today how to establish useful linkages and connections with people and institutions that can help our country and citizens.

As a learned doctor and surgeon, Dr Jose Rizal could have been an excellent consultant to our DOH and health workers, on how to protect our people from Ebola, HIV/AIDS, and from other diseases and maladies. As a brilliant community organizer, Rizal could have very well used his Dapitan experience to advise the DILG and Secretary Mar on how to develop our outlying villages, and how to deal with the lumads, and the other cultural communities. Rizal could been an excellent consultant to the peace process and in the establishment of the Bangsamoro. His talent in building bridges of peace and understanding should come in handy today when we still have problems with the rebel and terrorist forces.

Rizal is a relevant hero today because he never ceases to inspire us with his writings, with the life he lived, with his passionate love of country. His death and martyrdom even gives us hope that it indeed is possible for a Filipino to offer his own life in order to show an example of selflessness. In today's era of many rascals and scalawags, of countless of scoundrels and monsters who are all shamelessly pillaging our coffers and ruining the nation while bringing in tremendous pains and sufferings to our people, Rizal provides us with one solitary reason to stand firm, still determined, still unbowed,  amidst all the ''slings and arrows of outrageous fortunes.''

Today, we do remember Dr Jose Rizal with some nostalgia and a great sense of loss and longing. Can the Malayan race ever produce another Rizal again? Why not ? We can give birth to a little Rizal in each of our lives. It is not the physical Rizal that matters most. It is his spirit of unconditional love for our country and people.

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